Aurora Spotlights - January 2020

Aurora Spotlights - January 2020

by aurora planning

While we’re almost at the end of the first month of 2020 already, we’re still in new year mode, and looking ahead to what this holds for planning….  Perhaps most notably, there’s the ongoing implementation of the Planning (Scotland) Act, but there is a lot else as well.  For some of this month’s key highlights, read on below!
On Holyrood
Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 – likely to continue to be the biggest bit of planning news into 2020, the provisions of the new Planning Act are now starting to become law....  Just shortly after our last Spotlights was published, the end of last month saw the following come into force:

  • Section 25 – noise sensitive developments (agent of change), with the effect that, where residents of proposed development are likely to be affected by significant noise from existing activity in the area (in particular from live music venues), the planning authority must take particular account of whether the new development includes sufficient measures to “mitigate, minimize or manage” the effect of noise; and
  • Section 42 – fines, which increases the maximum level of fines imposed for failure to comply with notices to enforce planning controls served on or after 20 December 2019.  

In addition, others are due to follow on 1 March, details of which will be in next month’s Spotlights.  Meantime, full details of the Regulations bringing these provisions into force (plus other provisions already in force) are available here.
Planning performance and fees as set out in last month’s Spotlights, the Scottish Government is also consulting on proposals as to how the performance of planning authorities is measured, the role of the planning improvement co-ordinator (introduced through the new Planning Act) and a structure for the planning fee regime, along with the introduction of additional services which authorities can charge for and the ability to waive or reduce planning fees in certain circumstances.  The consultation paper is available here and the closing date for comments is 14 February 2020 so we recommend that you make sure you have your say.
Transforming Planning related to the ongoing changes to the planning system, the Scottish Government has launched a new website ( to help people get involved and keep up to date with events and progress. This includes work on the National Planning Framework 4, planning reform through the new Planning Act and associated legislation, and the Digital Planning programme, which is working towards the delivery of new services and systems putting data and technology at the heart of planning. We’re all in favour of anything that makes the planning system more accessible and transparent, and hopefully this will be a useful resource.
National Planning Framework 4 as set out on the website, the Scottish Government has begun the process of reviewing the current National Planning Framework (NPF3), and has issued a call for ideas to find out people’s thoughts and priorities for this.  In particular, the Scottish Government is interested in views on key issues such as what development will be needed to address climate change, highlighting the important role planning can and should play in such matters.  Further information is available here and responses are invited until 31 March 2020.
National Transport Strategy – following consultation last year, the National Transport Strategy (NTS2) is to be published online on 30 January, described as setting out Transport Scotland’s vision for the next 20 years, redefining investment priorities, and putting sustainable and public transport at the heart of decision making.  We are hopeful that this will have a positive impact in terms of delivering a healthier, fairer and more prosperous Scotland in accordance with its vision; a common goal of both transport planning and land-use planning!
On local government
City of Edinburgh Council Main Issues Report the first step in the process of preparing the next Local Development Plan for Edinburgh is consultation on the Main Issues Report which will run for a period of 8 weeks from Friday 31 January.  This will shape the policies and proposals for development in Edinburgh between 2020 and 2030, and so we would encourage anyone with any interest in what happens in the capital over this time to respond.  Further information and details on how to respond is available here.
Montgomerie Park Simplified Planning Zone in a Scottish Government pilot, North Ayrshire Council has become the first local authority in Scotland to adopt a new Simplified Planning Zone, which will see planning permission granted for residential development at Montgomerie Park, Irvine before the land is sold by the Council.  It is hoped that this will reinvigorate house building in the area although, by effectively transferring the work of obtaining consent from developers to the local authority, it comes at a cost.  It will though be a scheme to watch with interest, as it progresses.
On planning applications
Hill of Rubislaw we were delighted to this month lodge revised plans for residential development at Hill of Rubislaw in Aberdeen, comprising 245 fully managed, one, two and three-bedroom apartments for private rent, together with a new amenities for both residents and the wider public.  Although private rented sector accommodation such as that proposed  is still relatively new to the city, our clients are confident that there is a real demand for it and, as the Scottish Government has recognised, it also offers significant economic benefits which the city is keen to embrace.
On other jurisdictions
Permitted development rights in Wales – Scotland isn’t the only place looking at changes to the planning system, with the Welsh Government having published a consultation on proposals to dispense with the need for planning permission to erect sheds or greenhouses on allotment sites in Wales.  As well as allowing local planning authorities to devote more resources to more complex planning applications, it is hoped that the changes will support both community food growing and healthy and active lifestyles by helping allotments to thrive in the long term.  It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the consultation is, and whether there is anything that can be taken from this to inform potential similar changes here in Scotland.
RTPI priorities for 2020 – meanwhile in England, the Chief Executive of the RTPI has written to the Westminster Government to set out the Institute’s priorities for planning in 2020, including the need to resource local planning authorities to help them deliver the Government’s targets on net-zero carbon, housing and infrastructure, and welcoming proposals for a planning white paper to make the planning process clearer.  Again, we’ll be keeping an eye on what happens south of the border as the year goes on, and how this relates to what happens here in Scotland, with some insights on that no doubt arising from Maggie’s involvement in the British Chamber of Commerce Expert Planning Panel.
On us
2020 is already shaping up to be a busy year for us, and the Christmas holidays are a distant memory.  In case you missed it though, our blog from earlier this month reflects on our holiday reading - this being “The Planner” by Tom Campbell, a novel in which a planner is the central character, and which provides an interesting view of our profession (albeit not one we necessarily agree with).  And, while future holidays seem equally distant right now, please do let us know if you have any suggestions for other planning related novels that would be worth putting on our list for then – we’re always interested in reading others’ perspectives!
Thanks for reading!

Pippa and Maggie

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